News & Politics

An Ex-Cop Organized a Black Lives Matter Protest — and Protestors Got More Than They Bargained For

The most peaceful of peaceful Black Lives Matter rallies took place Friday evening in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, a conservative suburb of Kansas City — perhaps because the organizer is a former police officer and Army veteran. Richard Sanford, dressed like he had just come from a backyard barbecue, told the assembled that the purpose of the event was to draw attention “to police brutality and injustice.”

But his message for the young protesters — mostly high school kids — was not what we have come to expect at a Black Lives Matter rally, where extreme, anti-police rhetoric is the norm. He began by thanking the chief of police and the mayor of Lee’s Summit for being so helpful. Police had blocked off the street, and were keeping a lookout from rooftops to keep the peace.

“All of the police officers that are here — they’re not here to intimidate, they’re not here to harass — they’re here to protect all of us,” he said, starting off on a very un-BlackLivesMatter-like note.

“I tell my children all the time, if you are ever confronted … by the police or any type of law enforcement official, I want you to cooperate as best you can,” he advised the group. “I know a lot of you are saying that Mr. Castile cooperated…but let justice prevail and let the police do their investigation and find out what happened before everyone starts jumping to conclusions.”

(It’s a national disgrace that these simple, common sense words have never escaped the lips of President Barack Obama.)

“I don’t think anyone is out here today to say they hate all white people like that idiot in Dallas,” Sanford continued. “This is not Dallas. This is a small town — a loving community called Lee’s Summit.”

A former St. Louis area police officer, Sanford said that in the seventeen years he’s lived in Lee’s Summit, he’s never had a problem with the police. “I think they are trained very well,” he said.

Sanford took some time to instruct the young people on how to behave when and if they have an encounter with the police (comply, keep hands on the steering wheel, make no furtive movements, etc.) and told them, “I want you to get home alive” adding, “that being said, stay out of trouble!”

“You guys have to understand something,” Sanford went on. “Every single day when our public servants leave their house, they also have in the back of their mind that this may be the last time that they see their families.” He bluntly added that “a large percentage of the time they are dealing with the scum of the earth.”

Sanford urged the protesters to “take personal accountability” for their own actions, explaining that “respect … that is something that is actually given and reciprocated.”

Sanford then veered into un-PC territory, lecturing the rally-goers on the importance of dressing appropriately.

“You also have to understand that perception is reality,” he said. “So if you see someone walking with their pants down below their behind, don’t be mad because someone called you a thug. If you’re wearing the outfit of a thug, they’re calling you a thug,” he noted. “If you’re wearing shoulder pads and a helmet, is it unfair for someone to call you a football player?”

“Same with the ladies,” he continued. “The one daughter that I do have — I don’t let her dress like a ho. I don’t care what’s in style. You are not going to walk out of my house with your drawers showing and your dress up to here,” he said, pointing to his upper thigh. “Being called a ho is rightfully so because that’s the uniform that you’re wearing. My plea to all young people is to have some self-worth about yourselves.”

“There’s nothing in the Bible that says anything positive about pride, but I’m talking about self-worth. Hold each other accountable,” Sanford continued.

“I shouldn’t have to be worried about going to a Juneteenth celebration or any other event worried that people that look like me are going to cause me harm. White people shouldn’t have to worry about that either. This is 2016! This is not 1955!” he exclaimed.

Sanford blamed the criminality often seen in black communities on “Willie Lynch Syndrome,” which takes its name from a speech allegedly given by British slave owner William Lynch in 1712 about the best methods for controlling slaves.

“I’m saying today that we need to shake that Willie Lynch Syndrome. We need to be accountable to one another,” Sanford said. “We need to be able to look within. If I want to make a change, that change needs to start with me.”

Like I said — not your average Black Lives Matter protest: